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Introducing Anisoprint 2.0: Pioneering composite 3D printing in Asia

Since strategically moving production to China, and its HQ to Singapore, the company is taking advantage of the Asian landscape to further advance strong, lightweight manufacturing technology

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In an industry as dynamic and rapidly evolving as 3D printing, companies that continually adapt and innovate not only survive but thrive. Anisoprint, a name synonymous with the pioneering development of continuous fiber composite 3D printing technology, is one such company. With a significant strategic pivot, Anisoprint recently moved its HQ to Singapore and its production to Suzhou, China – marking a new chapter in its journey of redefining additive manufacturing.

Turning Eastwards

Anisoprint’s recent move of manufacturing to China was part of its well-considered strategy, accelerated by the challenging investment climate in Europe. The transition involved opening a new office in Shanghai in December 2022, amidst Europe’s dwindling investment prospects.

“Most of the changes happened with our move manufacturing to China,” said Fedor Antonov, Founder and CTO of Anisoprint, during our interview, in which he highlighted that the decision to relocate was driven by the need for a conducive environment for fundraising and expansion. “Investors in Asia have a better understanding of hardware and more success stories, making it a fertile ground for hardware startups. It was a very interesting insight. Investors here in Asia definitely have much more of an appetite towards hardware. And last year, unlike in the West, when everyone was discussing the downturn of 3D printing, with evaluations and revenues declining – in Asia, it was completely the opposite, there’s hype, it’s growing. 3D printing was very hot last year, and we kind of caught this wave.”

Introducing Anisoprint 2.0: Pioneering composite 3D printing in Asia. The company recently moved production to China and its HQ to Singapore.

The dynamic Asian venture capital landscape offered Anisoprint and its composite 3D printing business a stark contrast to its experiences in Europe. Upon announcing their Chinese office, they were swiftly approached by Asian VCs – experiencing a fundraising process that was not only faster but also more attuned to the hardware sector. “If you chase investors, you can never raise. You have to be in the position where the investors chase you – this is when you raise. That’s what happened to us in Asia,” said Fedor. “We first touched down in mid-April, and we closed the round in the beginning of July.”

The company, until February 2022, had most of its R&D team in Russia. However, geopolitical events prompted a swift move to Luxembourg – followed by the transition to Asia. This move was aimed at harnessing China’s advanced supply chain, human resources, and manufacturing capabilities. After setting up, the team hired and trained 40+ new employees, simultaneously.

“In comparison, Luxembourg has no talent pool, and the prices are very high. Even the state support is much better in Asia,” said Fedor. “When you’ve never been to Asia and you’ve heard all the stories, which basically have nothing to do with reality, then yeah, it’s scary. But as soon as we came here, we saw how it really works.”

More recently, Anisoprint moved its HQ to Singapore, enticed by the country’s integrated financial services, and access to multiple different funds and investment companies. Singapore is also a democracy with an appealing legal system, a stable society, and an influx of Asian immigrants looking to invest in new opportunities. Essentially, the company will be based in Singapore, but with all the benefits of Chinese manufacturing.

Introducing Anisoprint 2.0: Pioneering composite 3D printing in Asia. The company recently moved production to China and its HQ to Singapore.
Anisoprint’s Composer systems.

New ‘Nova’ system

In the product realm, the company is preparing for the upcoming release of Nova, a semi-industrial printer that represents the second generation of their technology. The Nova printer boasts a unique set of features, including a tool-changing system for up to four printheads, automated leveling and calibration, and a built-in material storage chamber. It’s designed to be versatile – accommodating various materials and allowing for intricate, high-strength composite structures.

The desktop system is fairly simple, especially compared to Anisoprint’s fully industrial machines, but it has all the auto motion and sensors, which the previous generation didn’t have. Importantly, it also has the tool-changing system for up to four printheads – a concept that is quite powerful for continuous fiber printing. “Within one machine, you can combine fibers of different thicknesses, or you can combine fibers and embedded wires. This adds much more functionality – so you can not only print with continuous fibers which basically give strength, but you can also use co-extrusion to print sorts of embedded electronics,” said Fedor.

Size is an important factor to consider when evaluating the impact of 3D printed parts. This is why Anisoprint chose to keep the build volume of the Nova system as large as practical – a similar size to the company’s Composer A3 system (460 × 297 × 210mm). The bigger the part, the higher absolute lightweight savings you can achieve. “There is a pretty good market for large jigs and fixtures, which we will definitely address, but the goal for now is to find more applications in end-use parts,” said Ryan Liu, the new CEO of Anisoprint.

“We started this project as the second generation of our desktop machines. The first generation machines were released in 2018, and are almost six years old now. We felt it was time to update and upgrade them,” said Fedor. “We’ve been working on it [Nova] while we were going through all this turbulence. So, there were some delays compared to our original schedule. We are almost ready to start production and we expect to start shipping in late Q2 – early Q3.”

Fedor Antonov.

Technological breakthroughs

Anisoprint’s commitment to innovation is further evidenced by its breakthrough in hot-end technology. After seven years, the company has developed a new printhead that eliminates the melting chamber – reducing clogging risks and enhancing print quality with different materials, including thermoplastic fibers.

“In our previous generation, there were some fibers you couldn’t print with – for example, thermoplastic fibers because they are too soft when they’re heated. This generation of printers was based on the melting chamber concept – when the fiber has to go through the chamber with the mold plastic before it extrudes through the nozzle. This approach was problematic because the fiber could buckle in the melting chamber and it could clog,” said Fedor. “At the end of 2022, we finally came up with a new solution for the printhead, and the hot end technology now has no melting chamber – basically eliminating clogging and giving much better pressure control.” The new print head design will be installed on all of Anisoprint’s Nova machines and industrial machines.

This innovation is not just about improving the machinery, but about expanding possibilities. “With the new printhead, we’re not just making parts stronger; we’re unlocking new design and application potentials in 3D printing,” said Ryan.

Recognizing the pivotal role of software in unlocking the full potential of 3D printing, Anisoprint is investing in the development of optimization tools and simulation software. These tools are essential for leveraging the company’s hardware capabilities – enabling designers and engineers to explore new horizons in part design and manufacturing. The focus on software underscores Anisoprint’s holistic approach to innovation – emphasizing the synergy between hardware and software in driving the future of AM.

“3D printing is a lot about design. You can only benefit from a certain technology if you really know how to design to get the most out of it. Each technology needs a different approach, and this is one of the things that we always kept in mind, but we never had enough time, resources, or focus to make a product. This is one of the big things that we will be working on intensively in the next months – optimization software,” said Fedor. “Design and simulation is pretty important to unlock all the potential, because without the design, continuous fiber is just making a plastic part a little bit stronger. With the right design, and software to facilitate this design, it is possible to achieve optimal lightweighting.”

Ryan Liu.

Market expansion

Anisoprint’s vision extends beyond technological advancements. The company is actively setting up new offices in Europe and the US – restructuring its reseller network to ensure global reach and local support. “We’re building a global team, diverse in backgrounds but united in our mission to bring innovative, reliable, and cost-effective 3D printing solutions to the market,” said Ryan, who also mentioned that Anisoprint will soon be hiring sales staff and application engineers, and signing up resellers.

With this new restructuring, the company intends to offer a higher quality service and shorten delivery timelines. The focus is on cultivating relationships with industry partners and customers through co-development projects – aiming to explore new applications and markets.

From drones to humanoid robots – both well-suited applications for composite printing that enables the production of strong, customized, and lightweight parts – the company sees vast potential for its technology, and envisions a world where the go-to production method for these parts is ‘Anisoprinting’.

“Drones and robots both need to be strong, yet lightweight. Our technology fits this value proposition perfectly. Humanoid robots are becoming a very hot topic, and I am convinced that this is the best technology to build a skeleton, because you have so many reasons for the structure to be lightweight,” said Fedor.

Introducing Anisoprint 2.0: Pioneering composite 3D printing in Asia. The company recently moved production to China and its HQ to Singapore.

At the forefront of AM

As it looks to the future, the vision is clear: to pioneer a new paradigm in composite 3D printing and manufacturing where customization, strength, and lightweight design converge. The company’s technology, particularly its unique capabilities in continuous fiber printing, is set to play a pivotal role in industries where these attributes are paramount, from aerospace to robotics.

The company’s strategic relocations, technological advancements, and global expansion efforts reflect its commitment to leading additive manufacturing forward by actively shaping its future. As the company continues its trajectory, it will undoubtedly offer valuable insights and contributions to the evolution of the industry.

Research
Composites AM 2024

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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